This Crosswalk devotional and little story that follows really spoke to me. I hope they do you too.
July 27, 2007
Missing the Forest for the Trees
“What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.” 2 Corinthians 5:11b-12 (NIV)
Sometimes I’m guilty of being such a rule follower that I tend to miss the forest for the trees, as the old saying chides. I look at things from too narrow a perspective, only to miss the bigger picture. It’s easy to slip into the mode of looking at but not really seeing others. Our hectic schedules leave little white space to venture beyond the surface issues. Because of this, it’s easy to pay attention only to the negative. We also have a tendency to cast judgment on those whose hearts we cannot understand. We are guilty of simply being human because, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
For example, I recently gave my children a Language Arts assignment. They were to write a one-page paper about a place they wanted to visit and what they would do there. As they turned in their papers I was intrigued by their responses.
I was instantly frustrated with my daughter, Ashley’s (9 years old) paper because the city name was misspelled. I also found many grammatical errors. I thought, “She doesn’t think enough of this assignment to do her best work. Is she really struggling with spelling and grammar or is this a heart issue? What does this say about her work ethic? What does this say about her character? What does this say about her educational future?”
I sent her to her room to re-write the paper – and do her best this time. Then I noticed her original work tossed aside on the counter, so I read it one more time. Here is an excerpt:
I want to go to Africa and see the litter (little) kids in the orfneg (orphanage). And brig (bring) them sutuff (stuff) like clous (clothes), toys, shous (shoes), blakits (blankets), and moms and dads. I want to pick up the litter (little) kids and hug them. Maybe I can be an ortnesig (orphanage) helper one day and make it a good place.
Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees! I had totally missed the beauty in Ashley’s heart because I was looking at the surface, catching every mistake I came across. Her compassionate heart was plain to God, and putting her desire on paper should have made it plain to me as well. But I was so busy worrying about the spelling errors that I callously overlooked her heartfelt response.
Ashley wasn’t trying to impress me with her grammatical skills; she was sharing a God-given desire with me. It was a chance for me to take pride in the way God is shaping her for a possible future ministering to orphanage-bound children. She needed me to see her heart, but I only saw her writing flaws as they appeared on paper.
Let me encourage you to learn from my mistake. Capture a moment today where you really see someone else. Look beyond their surface mistakes to see their heart. Maybe it’s your child. Or maybe it’s a spouse, neighbor or friend.
Father, forgive me for often making judgments of others based on
outward appearances. Help me to take time to really see their hearts
and understand where they are coming from, and when they align with the
things of you, to affirm and support their choices. In Jesus’ Name,
Duck and the Devil
A little boy was visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods; but he could never hit the target.
Getting a little discouraged, he headed back home for dinner. As he was walking back when he saw Grandma's pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it. He was shocked and grieved!
In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching!
Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch the next day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes."
But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen."
Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?"
So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, and Grandma said,"I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally just smiled and said, "Well that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help." She whispered again, "Remember the duck? So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, "Sweetheart, I know.
You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."
Thought for the day and every day hereafter . . .
Whatever is in your past, whatever you have done and the devil keeps throwing it up in your face - lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness, etc. Whatever it is, you need to know that God was standing at the window.
He saw the whole thing.
He has seen your whole life.
He wants you to know that He loves you and that you are forgiven.
He's just wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of you.
The great thing about God is that when you ask for forgiveness,
He not only forgives you, but He forgets.
It is by God's grace and mercy that we are saved.
Always remember: God is at the window!
When Jesus died on the cross; he was thinking of you!